LOOKING FOR ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR?
In a episode of Freaks and Geeks, the father of a 14-year-old boy asked him which Charlie's Angels he was most attracted to. When the boy replied he had no preferences for the angels, but instead has a crush on a girl at school, his father leaped in surprise and pushed his son to pursue the girl immediately, despite her already going out with someone else. At the same time, the boy's much older sister-- Lindsay-- told her father that she wants to go out. The father then insisted she doesn't have any wants... "until you're married!"
Even though the dialogue is entirely fictional, many boys and girls still listened to the same messages through social pressure: from their parents and family, from their peers, and from the media. Teenage boys are expected to become “ladies’ man” as they developed into their adolescent years. We assumed that normal boys, but not girls have “raging hormones” – and that girls and not boys longed for emotional connection and relationship. We assumed that boys are burgeoning sexual beings; that they are obsessed with their sexuality and expect them not only to feel sexual desires, but to be compelled to act out on them. As for girls, any acknowledgement of their sexual desires and longing as part of their adolescence is virtually nonexistent.
Despite the incessant flow of sexual images and relationship advice, girls do not get many positive messages about their sexuality. They are barraged with an ever more confusing and contradictory set of guidelines for how they should manage their developing sexuality; don’t be a prude, but don’t be a slut; have (or fake) your orgasm to ensure your boyfriend is not made to feel inadequate, if you want to keep him. Ultimately, the portrayal is to be seen as sexy, but not to have any sexual desires.
One fifteen-year-old girl writing on a teen web site, who described herself as “unashamed” about being “sexual,” recognized that such behavior by a girl is still frowned upon: “I am a slut… to some people it’s someone who sleeps around, and to others it’s someone who his open about her sexuality. Either way, I guess that’s me.” While some girls may fear being labeled a prude, this moniker is not about their own desire but about their refusal or failure to meet the sexual demands of boys. However, the threat of being branded a slut still looms large for teenage girls.
To acknowledge one’s desire is ultimately to “know” one’s body and the ability to feel the feelings in it, to access to the range of physical sensations that course through one’s body, providing information about the experiences – emotional as well as physical- that one is having. Our concepts of desire is this: we believed desire is a demanding physical urge, instinct, or drive embedded so deeply in the body that it gains a life of its own once ignited. It is impossible to control, absolutely necessary to satisfy (through sexual intercourse), and aggressive to the point of violence. Desire is uncivilized. It’s all about individual needs and has nothing to do with relationships. It is male and it is masculine. Most of all, these concepts are untrue. Desire is in everyone, but the repercussions for girls who entitled themselves to feel sexual longing have social consequences.
Healthy sexuality means having sexual desires, but there is little, if any safe place – socially, physically, psychologically— for these forbidden and dangerous feelings.
Humans are naturally, sexual creatures. Healthy and natural sexuality should also include an acceptance of our animal nature and a positive attitude toward our bodies, our nudity, and our sexual urges. One definition reviewed by theorists included having appreciation for one’s own body, seeking out knowledge regarding reproduction, understanding that human development includes sexual development (i.e., reproduction, genital sexual experiences), interacting with both genders respectfully and appropriately, understanding and respecting sexual orientation, appropriately expressing love and intimacy, and developing and maintaining meaningful relationships while avoiding exploitative or manipulative ones. Healthy sexuality should also include components of communication and acceptance of love, expressing emotion and giving and receiving pleasure, having the ability to enjoy and control sexual and reproductive behavior without feelings of guilt, fear, or shame.